Lighter is better–until it isn’t. Or maybe I can be more accurate by saying lighter is better until something is so light that it breaks. American Defense Manufacturing has taken low mass to a new arena with its Trijicon MRO mount made from titanium.
American Defense Mfg. isn’t necessarily known for light weight. Instead they are known for practical. American Defense Mfg’s carbines and pistols are known for their solid execution of ambidextrous controls. These controls significantly simplify the manual of arms of the AR-15. Other features include over sized integral trigger guards and a flared magazine well which is ready to accept whatever AR-15 magazine you want to stuff into it.
Although I haven’t spent much time with an ADM UIC rifle, I know that I would like to. My primary motivation is ADM’s reputation for innovation. That innovation takes us back to the Trijicon MRO full titanium mount.
Titanium vs. Aluminum
If you are looking for strong, but light, titanium is probably the answer. Ti is as strong as steel but with 45%-50% less mass. Generally, titanium is heavier than aluminum but the difference is that Ti is significantly stronger than aluminum. This means that you can use less titanium to make a part. The resulting part is often stronger and lighter. Titanium however, has its problems. Aluminum and iron (the main component of steel) are some of the most common metallic elements on earth. This makes them abundant and inexpensive. Titanium on the other hand is relatively rare. This increases the cost.
If you have ever had the chance to watch parts being machined on a CNC machine, one of the things that might surprise you is the waste. A typical machine shop works to minimize waste through design and for Ti this makes complete sense. Why in the world would you want to have more than half the expensive material you begin with end up on the shop floor for recycling? You wouldn’t, but if you want light, that is the way it is gonna be.
Remember, Ti is heavier than Al. To have the strength but less weight than aluminum, that titanium needs to be cut away. This leads to waste and a price tag that is outside of what most are willing to pay for an optic mount.
Remember why I like that UIC Carbine? Yeah innovation. It’s the same reason I am impressed with the titanium mount for the MRO.
Out with the old.
ADM didn’t allow itself to be hemmed in by their current processes. When they wanted to go lighter AND stronger they turned to a technology that has been on the rise in America and in the firearms industry, Metal Injection Molding. Also known as MIM, metal injection molding relies on the injection of a powdered form of the base metal combined with a bonding agent into a mold as a liquid. The parts are then exposed to heat, a solvent, or both to remove the binding agent resulting in a fragile but light weight part. These parts, in the brown stage, are then exposed to heat to bring them close to the melting point where they maintain their light weight but gain significant strength.
The MIM advantage extends to titanium
The most important difference between metal injection molding and traditional machining is the ability to create intricate parts without excessive waste or costly machine time. American Defense Mfg has created a stronger, lighter part without piling Ti scrap on the floor and without making a horrendous dent in your pocket book.
A typical ADM Trijicon MRO Co-Witness Mount in aluminum weighs in at 2.3 oz and has a price tag of $92.00. The Trijicon MRO Full Titanium Co-Witness Mount is about 43% percent lighter at 1.3 oz. with a premium of $148. This is a weight savings of a full ounce for $50.
Now, not everyone cares about an ounce, but if you are going to be pushing the envelope carrying a rifle for long periods of time, or running at full velocity the weight savings might make the difference you need and may justify the additional cost.
It should be noted that the weight isn’t the only benefit you get with Ti. If you are focused on precision know that the properties of titanium means that your mount responds less to heat expansion resulting in less shift in zero.
Other Benefits of ADM Mounts
Both the aluminum and titanium sights have AMD’s patented QD Auto Lock Lever which adjusts without proprietary tools. You adjust the lever with your fingers and can lock it to the front or the rear. At the same time the simple lever increases the surface area you are clamping to. The result is an easy to adjust, secure mounting solution.
What do you think?
An ounce less, nearly twice the strength, and just a touch more than aluminum offerings from competitors the Trijicon MRO Full Titanium Mount from American Defense Manufacturing incorporates innovation on top of typical AMD quality. I’m looking forward to taking this mount for a spin when it begins shipping this summer.
How important is light weight to you? Is the cost of titanium worth the strength and weight savings? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.